MCPS must stop overusing Blair

April 10, 2003, midnight | By Elena Chung | 17 years, 9 months ago

After all the students left Blair on Friday, Mar 14, the windows and hallways were cleaned and the walkways cleared. But come Monday, May 17, grime covered the windows, trash littered the corridors, and cigarette butts dotted the sidewalks.

Even after extensive Friday cleaning, building services has less than three hours on Monday morning to clean the school before students arrive, because the building is open approximately 21 hours a day, even on weekends. The Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB), MCPS' office in control of school rentals, needs to limit building usage and give Blair more money to alleviate stress on janitors and reduce the building deterioration that comes from overuse of Blair's building.

Currently, for every hour of rental, Blair receives only $1.25, even though renting rates depend on the time and area used. The rental amount to the ICB does not come close to the amount Blair receives from the ICB. For example, if a three-hour enterprise rented out auditorium over the weekend and used air conditioning, the total cost would be $295, but Blair would only see $3.75. "It's not dollar for dollar by a long shot," says Business Manager Anne Alban.

Blair is a public building available for community use. However, the constant usage leads to "wear and tear," says Principal Phillip Gainous. Back-to-back rentals do not allow sufficient time for maintenance, and building services sometimes has less than one hour to clean the entire school before another group arrives. Such a short span of time leaves building services with too little time to stock necessary supplies such as toilet paper. Carpets never get a thorough wash, and custodians rarely have time to wax the tile floors.

Building services is also understaffed; the current staff is comprised of 20 people. Only a few janitors must clean the entire building over the weekend and supervise the organizations renting Blair.

Often, groups do not respect the building and do not comply with ICB regulations. On Jan 23, the Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association meeting had more people than originally reported, left classrooms dirty and even broke the fire code, according to secretary Carrie Addison. The fire marshal was called in to restrict illegal use of propane tanks. Last year, another group left the grand piano out of tune and scratched, but paid for only some of the damages. Over time, minor damages will build to create widespread deterioration of the building.

Blair is open nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 351 days a year. Perpetual rental compounds the deterioration created by the day-to-day bustling of students. A higher return rate from the ICB would help Blair's building services and compensate for long-term damages. ICB should not only raise rates, but also restrict rentals to limit stress upon the young but already cracking building.

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Elena Chung. After several failed attempts to start a school newspaper in elementary school, Elena Chung, a senior, has finally fulfilled a lifelong goal to write for a paper. When she's not hunting down sources or finishing loads of work, she enjoys taking photos, cooking, reading, watching … More »

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